Kronberger, Petra (1969—)

views updated

Kronberger, Petra (1969—)

Austrian downhill racer. Born on February 21, 1969, in Pfarrwerfen, Austria; her father drove a cement truck; her mother worked as a cleaning woman and dishwasher.

Won three consecutive World Cups (1990, 1991, 1992); won two Olympic gold medals in slalom and combined in Albertville (1992).

Petra Kronberger was born on February 21, 1969, in Pfarrwerfen, Austria, into a family of limited means: her father drove a cement truck while her mother worked as a cleaning woman and dishwasher. Petra took to the slopes early; by age six, she had won her first trophy. For four years, starting at age ten, she lived at a Skihauptschule in Bad Gastein, a special school for athletes. She then attended a similar school in Schladming. But Kronberger was not considered a strong skier because she had suffered a number of injuries. She took a job as a bank clerk.

In 1988, Kronberger placed 15th at Leukerbad, Switzerland, and was on the Austrian team for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary; she finished 11th in the combined and a respectable 6th in the downhill. Two years later, she was a superstar of the slopes.

In December 1990, Kronberger won a World Cup event in all four Alpine disciplines—slalom, giant slalom, Super G, and downhill—accumulating 276 points to the 195 points of the second place finisher; she followed that with a victory in a combined event a month later. But starting in January of 1991, she was slowed by a knee injury, resulting from a crash in the World championships in Saalbach, Austria, causing her to miss a number of races in the second half of that season. Even so, she finished that tour with 312 points.

In the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, Kronberger took the gold medal in the downhill with a time of 1:32:68. Anneliese Coberger took the silver, the first time a New Zealander ever medaled in the winter Olympics. Also heavily favored in the Alpine combined, Kronberger easily took the downhill but skied conservatively on her first slalom run and placed sixth. But two months previous, Austria's slalom coach, Alöis Kahr, had been killed in an automobile accident, and Kronberger sensed Kahr offering advice as she prepared for her second slalom run. She aggressively attacked the course, beating all comers for another gold medal. But the pain in Petra Kronberger's knee grew worse and she retired soon after.